The Women Who Have Mentored and Inspired Me
Name Dropper Syndrome

Do I look like my next job?

Was watching the Golf Hall of Fame Induction ceremony the other night. Fred Couples was inducted and introduced by sportscaster Jim Nantz. Jim re-told the great story about the dreams they had as classmates and team mates on the University of Houston golf team. In 1978 Fred Couples and Jim Nantz, a broadcast journalism student at the time, rehearsed many times the scenario where Fred won the Masters and Jim interviewed him holding a fake microphone. On April 12, 1992 this very dream ACTUALLY happened, just like they had planned. Freddie won the Masters and Jim interviewed him in Butler Cabin fourteen years later! 

Fred and jim
Fred Couples and Jim Nantz 1992

Part of looking like your next job means you prepare for it, you envision it, and you have rehearsed it. 

But the salient point here is they had a dream. They knew what they wanted. Their vision proceeded their ambitiousness.

It's never foolish to begin preparing for a transition no matter how many years away it is or where you are in your career. Muriel Wilkins

Amy Gallo advocates these principles in her blog:

Do:

  • Look for every opportunity to demonstrate your leadership potential, at work and outside t
  • Support your boss in reaching her goals
  • Find people in positions you aspire to and study what makes them successful

 Don't:

  • Let your ambitions distract you from doing your current job well
  • Exert authority where you don't have any — use influence to prove your leadership chops
  • Find the right time to openly discuss your ambitions

I was sitting at a career event dinner and a young woman across the table from me blurts out, "Hey, is there any truth that I should look like I want my boss's job?" I paused and asked whether she was talking about dressing for success or was it more than that. She said, "Yes, what I wear, but also what I do." Now before all of you roll your eyes and groan--how naive this young lady is--let me tell you few people, young and more mature, get this. One of the funny parts of this story is I learned later that her boss was sitting next to me!

She clearly had thought about this question and showed some guts to ask it. Here's a brief synopsis of our exchange:

First make sure you know what you want and want what you know. Yes, how you look, act, talk, perform, shapes your brand within the organization. Your brand is what people think about what you bring to work. Your brand is where people think you are going. Your brand is the potential others, including you boss, see for you. (Not what you see for yourself) So, how you look matters. But what you say and what you do matters more. 

I mentioned the PIE research to her. Where your Performance is a given and is the least influential in your promotability. It is your Image (your brand) and your Exposure (your visibility) that dwarf your performance  in terms of your promotability. This surprised her.

We discussed her "managing up" skills. Does she help her boss beyond her job by making observations, preparing thought pieces, giving feedback, and anticipating her boss's needs?

A successful middle manager gets promoted when she takes the right amount of initiative, defers the right amount of credit and orchestrates success. That success might happen despite (not because) of who her bosses are, and that's just fine, because she's leading up.   Seth Godin

And then I said, "You gotta look like your next job." Meaning--if you dress down to your level then people may not see you as a manager or an executive. We all know the clothes don't make the person, but your brand is your brand. If the culture at your place of employment is managers wear suits, then you need to adjust your look. If your culture is the executives get in early or stay late. Or if the culture is reading certain publications or attending certain events. Then you need to adapt to these cultural norms and values.

My favorite story on this topic is when a gang member named Leonard came to Father Greg Boyle to seek his advice on getting a job. Leonard told him that he gets interviews but never an offer. Leonard had tattooed on his forehead in 3 inch letters F#@K THE WORLD. I met Leonard after he had that tattoo removed from his head and now he has more opportunities. 

I know this is extreme but I have seen, worked with, and managed people who discuss their lofty career plans out of one side of their mouth and then they come to work looking like they don't care. Their dress communicates the same phrase as Leonard's old forehead!

Management, the executive team, see potential in the performance and then the brand of the person. 

When the student is ready the teacher appears.  Buddha

Use your network and your mentors to  check your forehead. :) To check your vision. To check what you want. To check your brand. That will help you see yourself and find out if you look like your next job. 

Thanks for reading.  John

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